Sago palm toxic to dogs and cats, as more pet owners are finding out
I recently heard that palm trees are poisonous to cats and dogs. Is that true? We have both types of pets and all kinds of palms in our yard.
Answer: The sago palm, with its hairy, stout trunk and spiky leaves, is a major danger to pets. A national animal poison control center has seen a 200 percent increase in cases involving sago palms since 2003, of which at least half have led to pet fatalities.
Increasingly popular, this Japanese palm is a favorite because it requires little water and little attention, and is sometimes used indoors as well. All parts on the plant are toxic -- not just the nuts.
Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures and liver failure.
Q: What are other poisonous plants?
A: Azaleas, oleander, mother-in-law plant, hydrangea, elephant ears, aloe vera, ivy and bird of paradise are also toxic. Lilies are highly toxic to cats. A popular house and office plant, variegated philodendron -- a climbing vine with large heart-shaped leaves -- is toxic to both cats and dogs.
Check out www.petpoisonhelpline.com for a complete list of problem plants.
Q: What should I do if I suspect my pet has ingested a poisonous plant?
A: Contact your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian or the 24-hour emergency Pet Poison Helpline, (800) 213-8660, which does charge a $35 fee per incident.
A first-aid kit for your pet is a blessing in an emergency situation, but keep in mind that you should always speak to a poison-control specialist prior to initiating any treatment, and never administer hydrogen peroxide to a pet unless under the direct recommendation of a veterinary professional.
A kit should include 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution (within the expiration date marked), liquid dishwashing detergent, rubber gloves, triple antibiotic ointment, vitamin E oil, Diphenhydramine tablets (25 mg with NO other combination ingredients), ophthalmic saline solution or artificial tears, can of tuna packed in water or a tasty canned pet food, sweet electrolyte-containing beverage, corn syrup and vegetable oil.
If you have questions regarding the first-aid kit recommendations, contact your pet's veterinarian.
The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.